What happens when you cross a downtown composer, an up and coming playwright, a beautiful orchestra, and 19 talented actors? You get KASPAR HAUSER, an unlikely new musical from the Flea Theater.
Based on a 200 year old story of "Germany's Orphan," KASPAR HAUSER follows the life of a young boy, raised 14 years in isolation and finally brought out into the world with shocking results. Elizabeth Swados, the show's composer and director, has created a dark, dynamic show, filled with haunting melody lines and exciting nonstop movement (I must compliment the movement director, Mimi Quillin - a former assistant of Bob Fosse's, for some truly excellent musical staging).
The show has a slew of wonderful images that stick in your brain well after you've left the theater. John McDermott (Set Designer), Jeanette Yew (Lighting Designer), Normandy Sherwood (Costume Designer), and Sam Goldman (Sound Designer) have all helped transform the space at the Flea into a distinctly European world. The picture below demonstrates just one of the show's searing images.
19 talented actors share the stage at the Flea, each with a distinct personality and set of crazy facial expressions. I was very impressed with the musicality of the cast. It is a fantastic ensemble show, with some distinct standouts. Preston Martin, as the title character, has much of the show on his shoulders. He gives a strong performance, but seemed to be slightly overpowered vocally by the ensemble the night I saw it. Eliza Poehlman (underused in my opinion) as Kaspar's mother, has an amazing soprano voice that breaks your heart as she sings about her lost son. And Carly Zien, playing a host of different characters, made me laugh and drew my focus whenever she was onstage.
This is a different kind of show for the Flea. It clearly wants to be in a larger space (there are some slight sight line problems), but in today's economic climate, does such a place exist? Time will tell, but don't miss KASPAR HAUSER while you have the chance here at the Flea Theater.